In deposition, Paula Deen says ‘of course’ she has used the N-word, but it was long ago
Posted Jun 20, 2013 8:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted using the N-word, but said it was long ago, according to a deposition transcript filed in federal court on Monday.
Deen is facing a suit by a former employee, Lisa Jackson, who claims she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment that included innuendo and racial slurs, the Associated Press reports. Jackson formerly managed a restaurant in Savannah, Ga., owned by Deen and her brother. The National Enquirer also had news of the deposition's "bombshell revelations" in "a blockbuster world exclusive."
In the deposition, Jackson’s lawyer asked Deen if she ever used the N-word, according to the AP account.
“Yes, of course,” Deen replied. She added that “It’s been a very long time” since she used the word. Deen said she likely used the N-word to describe the man who held her up at gunpoint when she worked as a bank teller in the 1980s. She also said she may have used the word when describing conversations between African American employees at her restaurants.
“But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on,” Deen said. Things have changed, Deen said, and she objects “to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior.” Deen added that she and her brother do not judge anyone by their skin color or gender.
Are jokes using the N-word mean, Jackson’s lawyer asked? Many jokes target groups, Deen said, and “I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”
She also admitted that she had once considered hiring only black waiters for her brother’s wedding after visiting an upscale Southern restaurant. “The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive,” Deen said.
Deen said she didn’t use the N-word to describe those waiters. “No, because that’s not what these men were,” she said. “They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.”
Deen’s lawyer released a statement saying his client “does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable,” and she is looking forward to her day in court.